Thursday, April 10, 2014

We Are Healthy Men!

Typical street scene in Ramat Bet Shemesh B
I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. The residents Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet (RBS B) are probably just as appalled as I am – or as any decent human being would be - at  what happened a couple of weeks ago to a woman waiting for a bus in  that suburb. As an observant Jew - she was dressed modestly by Halachic standards. But probably not by that community’s extreme standards. A male resident of that suburb approached that woman  put his face right in front of hers and shouted “Slut! You weaken men!”

This frightened her and she screamed. Here is what happened next. From the Forward
She called the police for assistance on her cellphone, as he turned away and crossed the street. But when he saw she was calling for help, it infuriated him anew. “As I was talking to the police, he saw what I was doing and he turned around and crossed the street back to me, running towards me at a crazy pace right in the middle of the traffic - he didn’t care about the cars on the street. He pulled my hair, knocked me to the ground, pulled off my head covering, and kept shouting “Get out of here!” with horrific screams. My daughter saw the whole thing and was crying as I yelling “Leave me alone, help me, call the police!” 
This man is obviously very sick. He is no doubt obsessed with sex and the slightest provocation along these lines sets him off. His reaction to his own sexual  stirrings caused him to lose his temper. And he uncontrollably beat up the source of those stirrings. In fact saying he is sick is an understatement.

There are two things to be said here. The first one is mentioned by the victim herself. As she was being pummeled - people who saw it – did nothing. A woman was being mercilessly beaten by a man, screaming for help or to call the police - and no one did anything. I don’t know how anyone with any sense of compassion could watch something like this happen right in front of them without acting immediately to help her in some way… or at least to call the police.

Unfortunately this problem does not only exist in this community. It happens all over the world. I’ve heard it all before. People see something like this and freeze. I don’t understand it. Is it fear? Even if so, why not at least call the police?

On the other hand - was there an extra factor in this case? I wonder if it were one of their own female residents being attacked by a secular Jew, would they have just stood by, too? But… I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are no different than the average man in the street anywhere in the world. Many people - Jews and gentiles alike - just freeze when they see violence being done by one person against another.

But as God’s chosen people - shouldn’t a Jew be better than anyone else? These fine religious Jews who observe the most minute details of Halacha have apparently not inherited the Jewish trait of compassion from their ancestor Abraham. Nor do they understand the Torah’s admonition of Lo Sa’amod Al Dam Re’eacha  (Vayikra 19:16). Do not stand idly by while your friend’s blood is being spilled.

There is another thing in my view that is even more problematic. It is the way this community is educated in matters of sex. The extremes they go to in order to avoid being sexually aroused (and thus sinning) has caused them to put up many fences. The result of that is that even the most normal interaction between a man and a woman causes sexual stirrings in the minds of their men. When one is used to seeing only women that are fully covered from the neck down with loose fitting clothing, and their hair fully covered as well, then the sight of a woman who might ordinarily be quite modestly dressed according to Halacha might cause people who are not used to that - to see it as provocative.

I don’t think this is an anomaly among the residents of RBS B. I think this is their norm. The vast majority of them are transplantees from Meah Shearim. This is the place that is famous for occasionally throwing rocks (or worse) at women who do not dress in accordance with their modesty standards. 

I recall the reaction a few years ago of the community to the harassment (by extremist RBS B zealots) of Na’amah  Margolese, a 7 year old girl on her way to a Religious Zionist school bordering their neighborhood. Though generally expressing mild disapproval of what happened - they were nevertheless sympathetic to the motives behind the harassment. ‘We are healthy men’ said one of them in an interview. We do not want to be subjected to such immodesty in our community.

Healthy men?  They are aroused by a six year old girl? If that’s the case, then the ‘healthy’ men of RBS B are pedophiles! At least that would be the logical conclusion here.

Now I’m sure the vast majority of that community are not pedophiles – including the fellow in the interview. But it should not escape anyone what they consider titillating. I think the expression ‘You weaken men’ explains a lot. What this depraved man uttered is actually their Hashkafa.

In their desire to be holy people, this community is taught to avoid all matters even slightly sexual. If you are raised to completely avoid any contact with the opposite sex, nature has a way of compensating for this. The Libido – or sex drive - is a natural part of every human being. It is as essential to life as eating and sleeping.  If one is deprived of normal interaction with the opposite sex and avoid all matters sexual, the libido will unconsciously be ‘starved’ and will be stimulated at the slightest provocation. It’s like fasting when you’re thirsty. After a while, your thirst will overwhelm you. The longer you fast, the more you will crave water.

The way sexuality is treated in these communities is by forcing everyone to fast. And to avoid the sight or thought of ‘water’ as much as possible. Not seeing it or interacting with it in any way will hopefully keep your mind off of your ‘thirst’. But nature will nevertheless take its course. One cannot fast forever. And the sight of plain water will make you want it badly.

Now I’m not telling anyone how to lead their lives. But when the extremes of one group start impacting negatively on another, my tolerance ends. The fellow who beat up that woman is a victim of such starvation. Even though his violent reaction was abhorrent and criminal by any standard, it should not be lost on anyone that what precipitated his behavior was a reaction to his own sexuality. A sexuality that is ingrained in them via a faulty approach to the opposite sex.